Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: Grand Forks (A History of American Dining in 128 Review) by Marilyn Hagerty

Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 ReviewsTitle: Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews
Author: Marilyn Hagerty 
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Nonfiction; Food & Drink
Publisher/Publication Date: Anthony Bourdain/Ecco; August 27, 2013

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A legendary 86-year-old food critic brings together a collection of the best down-home, no-nonsense restaurant reviews-from Red Lobster to Le Bernadin-culled from her fifty year career...

Writing for her local North Dakota newspaper, the Grand Forks Herald since 1957, Marilyn Hagerty went from obscurity to overnight sensation in 2012 when her earnest, admiring review of a local Olive Garden went viral. Among the denizens of the food world-obsessive gastronomes who celebrate Alice Waters and Michael Pollan, revere all things artisanal, and have made kale salad a staple on upscale urban menus-Hagerty's review ignited a fiery debate over the state of American culture. Anthony Bourdain defended Hagerty as an authentic voice of the larger American culture-one that is not dictated by the biases of the food snobbery that define the coasts.

In this refreshing, unpretentious collection that includes more than 200 reviews culled from a voluminous archive spanning over fifty years, Hagerty reveals how most Americans experience the pleasure of eating out....
Just a quick disclaimer: this is the kind of book that will make you hungry.

I picked up Grand Forks just because I happened to come across a copy, and decided to just go ahead and buy it. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading 237 pages worth of reviews about restaurants and food, written by Marilyn Hagerty.

Grand Forks is probably one of the more interesting nonfiction reads I’ve come across this year—not because it wasn’t science, history, or environment related (it’s not even a cookbook). Those subjects are fine, but Grand Forks was just different. It was filled with a compilation of restaurant and food  reviews.

Grand Forks was all about the food from the various restaurants that Marilyn Hagerty visited. She also described the décor, the atmosphere of those places, and her overall dining experience. Hagerty’s descriptions of the food she tried often made me wish I had a plate of it too.

I liked how the reviews centered largely on Hagerty’s community restaurant scene, and how some of the places were reviewed more than once. On the surface, Grand Forks doesn’t appear to tell the history of much. But, actually, it was kind of a history of American dining. One of the earlier reviews in Grand Forks comes from 1987. So, 1987 all the way up until 2012. That’s a long enough time to establish some kind of history. As the book progressed, it kind of illustrated the changing times in Hagerty’s community. New restaurants opened, old favorites closed down or altered their menus and dining rooms—while some things almost stayed basically the same.

So, Grand Forks was a very entertaining read. I liked it a lot.

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